Week 5 saw an offensive explosion in fantasy football. If you owned Deshaun Watson, Will Fuller, Aaron Jones, or Christian McCaffrey (and your name isn’t Jason Moore) you likely won your matchup by a large margin. Our weekly total snap leaders by position were Leonard Fournette, who led all RBs with 77 snaps in Jacksonville’s loss to Carolina, Keesean Johnson and his 73 snaps for the Cardinals topped the WR rankings, and TEs George Kittle and Matt Lacosse, who both played 73 snaps for the 49ers and Patriots, respectively, in their Week 5 victories.
We also saw the return of a few star RBs and an absolute traffic jam of poor play from the TE position. Let’s see how the snap counts played out in those situations and a few others…and what it might mean for fantasy value in the future.
Every week I like to highlight any RB/WR/TE that played 100% of their team’s downs. Two names we haven’t seen on this list before joining the club for 2019. Bears WR Allen Robinson and Bengals WR Auden Tate both played 100% of the snaps in their team’s losses. While Robinson is only mildly surprising, Tate was replacing the injured John Ross for the first time this week so this could signal some fantasy value moving forward.
Week 5 Snap Count Observations
Houston Texans RBs (Carlos Hyde 47, Duke Johnson 29)
This is a concerning game for Duke Johnson owners. This was a fast-paced, high-scoring matchup and the Texans threw for over 400 yards, mostly to Will Fuller, but Johnson barely made a blip on the fantasy radar. Hyde played 64% of the snaps and received 70% of the carries. He didn’t exactly have great numbers but got the lone RB touchdown. The most concerning is that both Hyde and Johnson only received one target. It is impossible to trust a pass-catching back that doesn’t catch passes. The two backs have almost a 50/50 split going, but all fantasy-relevant touches seem to be going to Carlos Hyde.
Kansas City Chiefs RBs (Damien Williams 35, LeSean McCoy 14)
There is an old joke that NFL stands for Not For Long and that became a reality in the Chiefs backfield. Despite their excellent play while Damien Williams was hurt, Shady McCoy and Darell Williams were immediately relegated to “non-factor” status upon his return. Darell didn’t even see the field and McCoy saw his snaps drop from 32 in Week 4 to 14 this week. To make matters worse, Shady fumbled away one of his few touches. Damien didn’t fare much better in what amounted to a very ugly offensive loss for the Chiefs. He finished the game with nine carries for 23 yards and no TDs. There will be better days for the Chiefs, and right now that looks to favor Damien Williams a lot more than his counterparts.
Los Angeles Chargers RBs (Austin Ekeler 46, Melvin Gordon 32)
While snap-wise Gordon was eased back into action, he did receive 12 of the Chargers’ 15 rushing attempts. Ekeler and his 15 receptions were the stories of the day but that was more of a game-script product and he will likely continue to lose snaps to Gordon. There were more than a handful of plays that they were on the field together, so Ekeler is going to have value moving forward, just not 15 reception value. Gordon looked, understandably, rusty and only averaged 2.3 yards a carry. He did, however, reel in four balls of his own and should see much better fantasy days ahead.
Pittsburgh Steelers RBs (James Conner 48, Jaylen Samuels 15)
After Week 4, all people wanted to talk about was the 60/40 timeshare between Samuels and Conner. Week 5 has put that to rest. Conner was on the field for 80% of the snaps to just 25% for Samuels. He also out-touched him 14-6, though Samuels did receive all three of the RB targets in the passing game. The Steelers lost Mason Rudolph in this game and it looks like he’ll miss some time. With the now 3rd string QB in play, that should mean more check-downs for the RBs and more fantasy relevance for both Conner and Samuels. Note: Samuels had his knee scoped after the game and is likely to miss one month.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RBs (Peyton Barber 20, Ronald Jones 20, Dare Ogunbowale 19)
What is going on in this backfield? All reports have been that it is Jones’ job but the numbers scream otherwise. Jones led the trio in opportunities (carries+targets) with 12, to Barber’s nine and Ogunbowale’s four but that is far from job security. Barber got the goal-line TD and this is, once again, a backfield that is impossible to start on any given week.
Arizona Cardinals WRs (Keesean Johnson 73, Larry Fitzgerald 57, Andy Isabella 10)
As mentioned before, Keesean Johnson led all WRs in total snaps played, which has become the norm in this fast-paced offense. The real story here is Andy Isabella. After it was clear that Christian Kirk would be missing this week, coach Kingsbury said that Isabella would see more work and there was a small rush to the fantasy waiver wire. What we ended up seeing was 10 snaps from the rookie WR and a player that is safely unrosterable in fantasy football. Both Trent Sherfield (58 snaps) and Pharoh Cooper (18 snaps) played more than Isabella.
Buffalo Bills WRs (John Brown 53, Duke Williams 51, Cole Beasley 42, Zay Jones 1)
Here is some behind the scenes action for you. I research this article on Monday night and finish writing it on Tuesday morning. As I was pouring through the counts, I was shocked to see that Zay Jones had only played one snap. I checked to see if I missed an injury and when I realized that it was a coach’s decision and that he was outplayed by Duke Williams in his first game as a Bill, my immediate thought was “Zay Jones is done in Buffalo” Not 5 minutes later I get the Sleeper notification that he was traded to the Raiders. If they had just waited until today I would like a genius. Williams is huge and will play a very nice complementary role opposite John Brown and Cole Beasley. I would caution against buying into any Robert Foster hype, as he was only seeing between 20-35% snap count when he was healthy.
Baltimore Ravens TEs (Nick Boyle 52, Mark Andrews 43, Hayden Hurst 33)
While no Ravens TE played well on Sunday, I draw your attention here because of Mark Andrews. Andrews has been fighting injury all season long and that is reflected in snap counts. Boyle has led this team in snaps almost every week but is 3rd in targets. I am of the belief that we will see a lot more Andrews once he fully recovers, which could be as soon as this week, and you will start to see results more in line with the first two weeks of the season and not what we’ve seen the last three games.
Cincinnati Bengals TEs (C.J. Uzomah 43, Tyler Eifert 18, Drew Sample 15)
The Cardinals can’t/don’t cover the TE. Everybody who has watched an Arizona game knows it. Apparently, Zac Taylor has not watched an Arizona game. It was an ugly game by all TEs but mostly for Tyler Eifert. He was a favorite Stream of the Week candidate who instead dropped the ball, literally, and was out-snapped by CJ Uzomah. With the Bengals looking at a full rebuild, this feels exactly like the Zay Jones situation, don’t let him get hurt so that you can move him. I expect an Eifert trade soon.
Oakland Raiders TEs (Darren Waller 57, Foster Moreau 45)
Over the last three weeks, Moreau has been playing a lot more snaps than expected. All of last season, the 2nd TE for the Raiders only played about 28% of the snaps. They did not run a lot of two-TE sets. Moreau has played 39% or more in each of the last three games. This offense loves the tight end and this may just be a product of WR injuries but Waller’s appeal came from his lack of competition. The more Moreau is on the field, the more he can steal TDs, as we saw in Week 4. Waller is still clearly the big dog but the situation bears monitoring.
Tennessee Titans TEs (Jonnu Smith 38, Delanie Walker 27, Mycale Pruitt 25)
Smith and Walker each saw two targets against a very good Buffalo defense. The hope was that Walker would use “old-man strength” and give owners one more solid fantasy year but if he isn’t seeing snaps on a sub-par passing offense, that dream may be dead.